You are here: Empowered women securing energy access in rural Senegal

8/03/2017

Energy poverty is acute in many parts of rural Senegal, but 160 women entrepreneurs in Tambacounda are mobilising to provide access to modern energy and transform the life of thousands of families in remote communities.

Access to energy is transformative. Without energy companies cannot grow, children struggle to study at night and health facilities fail to deliver essential services. Without energy, the productive activities of off-grid communities stop after dark.

Women are particularly affected by energy poverty. Many spend hours collecting firewood for cooking, cook on inefficient, smoky stoves and undertake their daily chores in poor lighting.

Energy access can improve women’s daily experience in many ways, freeing up time for girls to attend school, and for women to engage in economic activities.

Although national programmes are underway to increase the energy access rate, reaching remote areas remains a challenge. This is where women have come to play a significant role, becoming actors in the delivery of energy products and services to their communities, linking producers in urban areas to clients in remote parts of the country.

Energy 4 Impact is supporting 160 women entrepreneurs in Tambacounda to become sales agents of improved cookstoves and solar lanterns, by offering business, strategic and technical mentoring, and support in accessing finance. Over the last year these women have sold 1,132 solar lamps and 822 energy efficient cookstoves, resulting in 17,586 people with improved access to energy.

Women are saving money. Where they used to spend 500 or 600 Francs on charcoal for cooking, they now spend only 200 to 250 Francs because these new stoves consume so much less than traditional ones.

- says Oumy Ngom, Energy 4 Impact supported entrepreneur.

The energy sector offers many economic development opportunities for women – both through the sale of energy products and services and through the productive use of energy, by enhancing the processing of agricultural crops, or providing refrigeration or phone charging opportunities.

- explains Louis Seck, country Manager at Energy 4 Impact.

Former Senegalese Minister of Renewable Energy, Mr Seck leads a task force of sector experts and influencers that contributed to the development and planning of the SE4ALL’s national action plan and investment prospectus to ensure it integrates clear gender objectives.

Gender-informed energy policies and programmes must be in place if we want to achieve sustainable development, as women are such big part of the equation, both as energy users and as providers of energy products and services.

- says Louis Seck.

We must tackle the barriers hindering women’s breakthrough in the energy sector by challenging gender stereotypes, closing the gender gaps in technology and in accessing finance; and promoting equal representation in decision-making.

On the occasion of International Women’s day on March 8th, The Ministry of Energy is hosting a conference on gender and energy, in line with their new action plan for integrating gender in energy programmes and policies. Energy 4 Impact is participating to share lessons learned from our Women’s Economic Empowerment programme in Tambacounda.

Energy 4 Impact’s WEE project is in line with the policies defined by the President of the Republic of Senegal in terms of energy access. Women can play a major role in Senegal’s development process, and importance is given to them by the country's high authorities.

- says Amadou Sakho, Prefect of the department of Goudiry, region of Tambacounda

Other influential figures have also taken a stand to increase awareness of women’s impact in the energy sector. Coumba Gawlo Seck, Senegalese singer and activist, travelled to Tambacounda in February to meet and celebrate a group of entrepreneurs in the villages of Bidiankoto and suburban Tambacounda, and raise awareness of the importance of women’s entrepreneurship in promoting social and economic development in rural areas.

Women play an important role in Senegal’s development. Projects like these strengthen women entrepreneurship through income-generating activities, all the while making their daily chores easier and improving their quality of life

- says Coumba Gawlo Seck.